Empathy is one of the most accurate predictors of a successful marriage

Tags: marriage empathy

John Gottman can forecast divorce probabilities at rates close to 90%. In his studies, if the wife felt she was being heard by her husband the marriage was essentially divorce-proof [1,2]. Gottman called empathy "the foundation of effective parenting".

One can develop an "empathy reflex" through two simple steps:

  1. Describe the emotional changes you think you see.
  2. Make a guess as to where those emotional changes came from.

Empathy helps address the problem of perceptual asymmetry which is one of the key root factors of most conflicts.


  1. Medina, John. Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five. Seattle: Pear Press, 2014.

  2. Shapiro, Alyson Fearnley, John M. Gottman, and Sybil Carrère. “The Baby and the Marriage: Identifying Factors That Buffer against Decline in Marital Satisfaction after the First Baby Arrives.” Journal of Family Psychology 14, no. 1 (2000): 59–70. https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3200.14.1.59.